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Activity Book 6: Secondary Level

Best suited for ages 16+

Periodic Table Scavenger Hunt

National Research Council Canada

How much do you know about the elements of the periodic table? Use your knowledge and research skills to find the answers to these questions!

  1. Which element makes up the core of stars?
  2. Which is the lightest metal?
  3. Which element is known as the "king" of all elements?
  4. Which element makes up approximately 78% of the Earth's atmosphere?
  5. Which well-known plastic is made of fluorine and carbon?
  6. Which white metal is so soft that it can be cut with a knife?
  7. Which element burns in both air and nitrogen?
  8. Which element has the highest malleability (can be pounded into very thin sheets) and ductility (can be pulled into a thin wire)?
  9. Which element is an important component of haemoglobin?

Answer Key

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Science aboard the ISS

Canadian Space Agency

The Canadian Space Agency research program aboard the International Space Station examines the behaviour of colloids in microgravity. Colloids are mixtures with properties that make them especially hard to separate. Here is an activity on the separation of mixtures. You will have to apply several separation techniques in order to identify which of three mixtures is a colloid.

Experiment Objective:

Identify the colloid among the following three mixtures: (1) vegetable juice, (2) 3.25% milk, (3) vinaigrette.

Separation Techniques - Decantation, paper filtration and centrifuging

  1. Decantation - This process makes use of the principle of sedimentation, i.e., the property of non-mixable liquids to form layers according to their relative densities.
  2. Paper filtration - Filter paper has numerous tiny holes that allow liquids to pass through while trapping solid particulates on the paper.
  3. Centrifuging - A rotating body tends to be projected toward the outside of the circle it describes. The components of a heterogeneous mixture subjected to rapid rotation will form layers according to their relative densities. In a sense, centrifuging is an acceleration of the sedimentation process.

Materials needed for each of the three mixtures:

A. Decantation

  • 1 separating funnel
  • 1 metal ring
  • 1 universal holder attachment
  • 2 100 ml beakers
  • 50 ml - vegetable juice, 3.25% milk, vinaigrette

B. Filtration

  • 1 funnel
  • 1 metal ring
  • 1 universal holder attachment
  • 2 100 ml beakers
  • 50 ml - vegetable juice, 3.25% milk, vinaigrette

C. Centrifuging

  • 1 centrifuge
  • 2 conical centrifuge test tubes
  • 1 100 ml beaker
  • 50 ml - vegetable juice, 3.25% milk, vinaigrette

A warning about centrifuging

Make sure that the conical centrifuge test tubes are placed opposite one another and filled exactly to the same level (i.e., two-thirds) to avoid unbalancing the centrifuge.

Let the centrifuge spin for about five minutes.

Allow the centrifuge to slow gradually with no external influences.

Do not try to stop it manually.

Experimental procedure

Suggest an experimental procedure to apply the three separation techniques to each mixture.

Tip: shake the vegetable juice and vinaigrette thoroughly before applying the separation techniques.


Record your observations in the table below.

(1) Vegetable juice

  • Decantation:
  • Filtration:
  • Centrifuging:

(2) 3.25% milk

  • Decantation:
  • Filtration:
  • Centrifuging:

(3) Vinaigrette

  • Decantation:
  • Filtration:
  • Centrifuging:

Analyze your observations.

Analysis (1):

Analysis (2):

Analysis (3):

Form a conclusion for each hypothesis.

Conclusion (1):

Conclusion (2):

Conclusion (3)

Which of the three mixtures is a colloid?

What are the components of this mixture?

Answer Key

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Calculating travel time of a tsunami

Natural Resources Canada

On November 18, 1929, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake, with an epicentre about 250 kilometres south of Newfoundland, generated an extremely large submarine landslide off the Continental Slope. The displacement of mass during this landslide caused a tsunami that struck the southern coast of Newfoundland. Tsunami waves travelled at a speed of 140 kilometres per hour across the Grand Banks.

1. Using the map scale and a ruler, measure the distance from the source (use the earthquake epicentre) to each station and landfall at Burin. Record the distances below.

2. Calculate the time travel of the tsunami to each station, using the formula below. Time = Distance / Velocity

3. Assuming that the tsunami began at 5:00 pm at the epicentre, enter the actual time of arrival at each station.

Calculating travel time of a tsunami
Station Velocity (km/h) Distance (km) Travel Time (hr) Actual Time
Station 1 140
Station 2 140
Station 3 140
Station 4 140
Station 5 140
Burin, NFLD 140

4. On the map draw in travel time lines from the epicentre to Burin, NFLD. With a set of compasses, place the point on the epicentre and draw an arc through each of the stations. Indicate the time at which the tsunami would reach each station if it began at 5:00 pm at the epicentre.

Answer the following questions.

5. Considering the travel time that you calculated, if the wave had been interpreted as a tsunami at station 1, would there have been enough time in 1929 to warn residents of the Burin Peninsula, NFLD, about the approaching tsunami? Explain.

6. If this event had happened today, what means could be taken to warn the shoreline communities of the approaching tsunami?

7. If a town needs to be evacuated, it is very important to know exactly how much evacuation time exists. The tsunami struck Newfoundland approximately 2.5 hours after the earthquake. Compare to your travel time calculations. If there is a difference, what are some reasons for your inaccuracy?

8. Examine the locations of fishing boats A and B on the map. Which of the boats will be more affected by the waves of the tsunami? Explain in detail why one boat experiences the full effects of the tsunami while the other only experiences a small wave.

Grand Banks Tsunami

Grand Banks Tsunami

Answer Key

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Agriculture Crossword

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture Crossword


4. Agriculture and Agri-food Canada's scientists in western Canada have developed many varieties of this small fruit

7. Used to measure moisture, nitrogen or phosphorus levels in soil9. Combination of sensations perceived in the mouth

10. An English writer said of this fruit: "Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did."

12. Considered a bad thing in the Middle Ages but seen today as insulating against change

14. Describes all strategies used to ensure long-term production without depleting resources

17. Bacteria isolated from the gut flora of breastfed babies that can, in some cases, protect against disease

20. Main component of both air and fertilizer

21. A necessity of life

23. Another word for cows

25. Also known as a fermenter, device used to grow microorganisms

26. Determination of the sequence of genes

28. Science of protecting plants

29. Beneficial insect used by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to control leafy spurge, or insect pest controlled by hairy canola

30. Organism resulting from cross-breeding two individuals of different varieties, subspecies (intraspecific cross), species (interspecific cross) or genera (intergeneric cross)

31. Canada's _________ is used in the best Italian pastas

32. Cooked tomatoes contain more of this substance


1. Just one of these heroes produces enough to feed 100 Canadians

2. ____________ species

3. Insecticides, fungicides and herbicides are examples

5. Probiotics undergo this process before being added to foods

6. Rapeseed, sunflower seeds, peanuts and soybeans are examples

8. Canada's ___________ is used to make a famous French condiment

11. The action of removing excess water from crops

13. Canada's __________ is recognized by beer brewers worldwide

15. This vitamin is better absorbed through milk and can boost both metabolic efficiency in cows, resulting in more nutritious milk, and fertility in sows, resulting in healthier piglets

16. Scientific study of insects

18. What seeds are planted in

19. Weed control method

22. Another word for pig

23. Rapeseed bred to be fit for human consumption by Agriculture Agri-Food Canada and other organizations

24. Flaxseed shelling method developed by Agriculture Agri-Food Canada that effectively separates the hull from the kernel

27. The action of watering crops

Answer Key

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Cell Structure Scavenger Hunt

National Research Council Canada

Use your knowledge of cell structure to answer the following questions.

  1. This material within the nucleus contains hereditary or genetic information called genes:
  2. These are a stack of flattened membrane-bound sacs involved in the storage, modification, and secretion of proteins and lipids:
  3. This organelle is the site of aerobic respiration and ATP production:
  4. These organelles are the sites of protein synthesis:
  5. These extend from the envelope of some viruses and help the virus attach to a living organism:
  6. This membrane-bound, fluid-filled space in plant and animal cells stores food, water, and waste material:
  7. This cellulose layer surrounds the plasma membrane of plant cells:
  8. This is a complex system of membrane-bound channels extending throughout the cytoplasm of cells:
  9. This layer encloses the genetic material of a virus:
  10. This is a whip-like tail that helps some bacteria to move:
  11. This membrane surrounds the cytoplasm:
  12. This layer surrounds the protein coat of some viruses:

Answer Key

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Tsunami Crossword

Natural Resources Canada

Tsunami Crossword


1. In deep water, wave height is less because energy is transferred over the entire water ______.

3. A series of catastrophic ocean waves generated by submarine movements.

6. Highest part of wave above the still-water line.

7. The vertical distance between 2 consecutive wave tops or 2 consecutive wave bottoms.

10. Emergency movement of people to avoid a hazard.

13. ______ impact can trigger a tsunami.

14. 'Tsunami' is Japanese for harbour ____.

16. Province (abbrev.) hit by deadly tsunami in 1929.

17. The amount of time between successive waves.

18. An abrupt downhill movement of soil and/or bedrock.

19. Wave velocity decreases and size increases as the wave approaches the____.


2. Maximum height of the water onshore observed above the 'normal' sea level.

4. The Pacific Ocean is encircled by a zone of frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions known as the Ring of ___.

6. Lowest part of wave the below still-water line.8. The most common cause of a tsunami.

9. The continuous reflection (bounce) of waves off of the sides of a harbour or bay, leading to amplification of wave heights and increase in duration of wave activity is known as harbour ___.

11. Location of deadly tsunami that killed over 230,000 people in December 2004.

12. Measurement of the height of the wave above the still-water line.

16. The point on the earth's surface directly above the focus of the earthquake.

17. Every family living in low lying coastal areas should have an emergency ____ to help them react safely to possible tsunami events.

Answer Key

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Radioactive Students

Natural Resources Canada

This activity explores exponential decay, radioactive decay processes, half-lives, and absolute dating.

While you can perform this activity with a class of any size, it works best with large groups - the bigger the better!

The Science

Isotopes are different forms of the same element where an atom has the same number of protons, but a different number of neutrons. For example, every isotope of Carbon has 6 protons, but can have anywhere from 2 to 16 neutrons! Of all these isotopes, only carbon-12 (12C, with 6 protons and 6 neutrons), carbon-13 (13C, with 6 protons and 7 neutrons) and carbon-14 (14C, with 6 protons and 8 neutrons) occur in nature, and the rest are only formed artificially in laboratories.

Some isotopes are stable: they can remain indefinitely in nature without changing. Other isotopes are unstable, and will undergo radioactive decay where the atom nucleus will emit energy and sometimes even particles until it reaches a stable state. Carbon-12 and Carbon-13 are stable, while carbon-14 is unstable, decaying into stable nitrogen-14 (14N, with 7 protons and 7 neutrons). The original radioactive isotope is the parent isotope (14C), and the isotope the parent decays into is the daughter isotope (14N).

A radioactive parent isotope has a 50% chance of decaying into its daughter product within its half-life. By measuring the ratio of parent to daughter isotopes, scientists can determine the age of a material for approximately six half-lives. Different isotopes have different half-lives, so they are useful for measuring different time frames. For example, carbon-14's half-life is approximately 5730 years, which means it can be used to date objects for approximately 34,000 years (6 x 5730 = 34,380 years), or sometimes longer with increasing error. This is why carbon-14 dating is often used to date human artefacts. By contrast, the decay of potassium-40 (40K) into argon-40 (40Ar) occurs over a half-life of 1.3 billion years, making it suitable to measure geological events since the formation of the Earth.

The Activity

Students will demonstrate the process of radioactive decay by acting out the changing ratio of isotopes present in a substance over time.

  1. Make a table with three columns: Half-life, Parents, Daughters. Fill out the first row as half-life = 0, parents = total number of students, daughters = 0. Add other rows for additional half-lives.
  2. All students start the activity seated. They represent radioactive parent isotopes.
  3. To represent the first half-life, every student flips a coin once. Anyone who flips a "heads" remains a parent isotope and stays in their seat. Anyone who flips a "tails" has decayed into the daughter isotope, and comes to the front of the class. Record the new count of parents and daughters in the second row of the table. If desired, assign one of the "daughters" to act as the recorder.
  4. Repeat for additional half-lives. For each half-life, all seated students flip their coin once. "Heads" remain parent isotopes and stay seated; "tails" become daughters and move to the front. Record the results in the table. Repeat until all students have decayed into daughters.

Variants & Extensions

  1. If a student arrives mid-way through the activity (or leaves during the activity), use that as an opportunity to discuss the limitations of radioactive dating with respect to closed systems.
  2. Randomly select some students (parents or daughters) and ask them to leave the room, skewing the table numbers. Use this as an opportunity to discuss the limitations of radioactive dating with respect to closed systems.
  3. Randomly pick some students to start off at the front of the room. These represent daughter-isotopes present in the initial composition, not produced by decay. Discuss how this composition would affect the accuracy when using isotopes to determine the age of material.
  4. Have daughters flip coins to produce decay chains of multiple radioactive reactions. An example of a decay chain is the uranium series, where uranium-234 (234U) decays into thorium-230 (230Th), a radioactive isotope which eventually decays into lead-206 (206Pb).
  5. Have students roll dice, where odds decay into daughters, and events remain as parents until the next half-life. Assign each odd number a different place in the room, representing different daughter isotopes that can be produced from the same parent decaying through different radioactive processes. For example, thorium-212 (212Th) can decay through emission of alpha particles into radium-208 (208Ra), or through emission of beta particles into actinium-212 (212Ac).
  6. Divide the class into two groups, and conduct the experiment with two different parent/daughter isotope chains with different half lives. E.g. group 1 flips a coin every minute; group 2 flips a coin every 3 minutes. Use the results to discuss cross-validating data and/or the impact of half-life duration on appropriate dating age ranges and error ranges. An example of simultaneous paired decay chains are uranium-235 (235U) decaying into lead-207 (207Pb) with a half-life of 700 million years, while uranium-238 (238U) decays into lead-206 (206Pb) with a half-life of 4.5 billion years.
  7. Compare the ratio of parent isotopes to daughter isotopes from your activity with the theoretical perfect 50:50 ratio expected by exponential decay. Use any variations to discuss error ranges: remind the class that although it is statistically a 50% chance of decay each half-life, the results are not precisely a 50% decay rate every time interval. This is a great way to discuss real-world error in radiometric dating with advanced students.
  8. For advanced students, use the data to try to derive the age equation, or use the age equation to determine the decay constant λ:

    D = D0 + N (eλt - 1)

    where D is the number of daughter isotopes at the current time (the tth row in the table), D0 is the original number of daughter isotopes (0), N is the number of parent isotopes at the current time (the tth row in the table), t is time (the table row), and λ is a decay constant related to the half-life.
  9. For advanced students, plot an isochron to solve the equation graphically. An isochron is a method of visualizing the daughter and parent isotopes with respect to the normal abundance of a stable isotope of the daughter element. Then, the y-axis illustrates an increasing enrichment of the daughter isotope with respect to the background, and the x-axis represents an abundance of the parent isotope with respect to the background, eliminating the need to know the starting quantity of parent or daughter isotope. For example, rubidium-87 (87Rb) decays into strontium-87 (87Sr), and strontium-86 (86Sr) is a naturally-occurring stable isotope of strontium. An isochron of rubidium-strontium decay plots 87Sr/86Sr on the y-axis, and 87Rb/86Sr on the x-axis. In your classroom, a stable isotope of the daughter isotope may be the number of people who usually sit in the front of the class (1, if only the teacher is normally at the front of the class). It is unlikely that every student will reach the front of the classroom at the exact same time. Bring this to the students' attention and discuss that not all the parents decay into daughters at exactly the same time within the half-life. The margin of error will vary depending on when the count is taken.

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Going South for a Tan?

Health Canada

The intensity of solar radiation depends partly on the latitude of a given place and time of year.

We know the sun is directly overhead at the:

  • Equator (0°) on/about March 21 and September 21 (spring and autumn equinoxes);
  • Tropic of Cancer (23.5°N on/about June 21 (summer solstice);
  • Tropic of Capricorn (23.5°S on/about December 21 (winter solstice).

The sun therefore moves through a latitude range of 47° every six months (182.5 days) or about one degree of latitude every four days.

Knowing this, we can calculate when the sun will be directly overhead in different latitudes.

For example, the sun will be directly overhead at 10°S latitude on:

  1. 23.5°S - 10°S = 13.5°S
  2. 13.5°S x 4 days/degree = 54 days after December 21 (when the sun was overhead at 23.5°S)
  3. Adding 54 days to December 21, the date is February 13.
Use the steps from the previous page to calculate when the sun’s rays will be directly overhead for the following popular vacation spots
Vacation Site Latitude ( ° ) Date of Overhead Sun
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Cancun, Mexico
Acapulco, Mexico
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Havana, Cuba
San Jose, Costa Rica
Ambergris Caye, Belize


  1. What is the relationship between UV radiation and the angle of the sun's rays?
  2. At what time of year are you most susceptible to UV radiation in these places?
  3. What is the second time in the year when the sun's angles will be directly overhead?
  4. Trick question: When are the sun's rays directly overhead in your home latitude?

Answer Key

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Locate the Earthquake

Natural Resources Canada


When an earthquake occurs, vibrations initiated by fracturing of the earth's crust radiate outward from the point of fracture.

P wave: Also called primary or compressional waves, P waves carry energy through the Earth as longitudinal waves, moving particles in the same line as the direction of the wave. These waves are the fastest body waves. P waves are generally felt by humans as a bang or thump.

S wave: Also called secondary or shear waves, S waves carry energy through the Earth in very complex patterns of transverse (crosswise) waves. These waves move more slowly than P waves, but in an earthquake they are usually bigger.

Each type appears as a unique signature on a seismogram, the visual record produced by a seismograph. At the recording station, the difference in arrival time of the P and S waves is used to calculate the distance to the epicentre of the earthquake.

Locate the Earthquake 1

P-wave velocity is 6.2 km/s and S-wave velocity is 3.65 km/s. The difference is 2.55 km/s.

Time taken by P-waves to travel a distance (D) from the epicentre to a seismic station:

TP = D / 6.2

Time taken by S-waves to travel same distance from the epicentre to a seismic station:

TS = D / 3.65

Difference in arrival time (lag time) between P- waves and S-waves is:

ΔT = TS - TP

ΔT = D/3.65 - D/6.2

ΔT = 2.55 D / 22.63

∴ Distance from the epicentre to the seismic station is: D = 22.63 ΔT / 2.55

Answer the following questions to demonstrate your understanding of this process.

  1. How long would it take P waves to travel 100 km?
  2. How long would it take S waves to travel 100 km?
  3. What is the lag time between the arrival of P waves and S waves over a distance of 100 km?
  4. If the difference in arrival time of P and S waves was 20 seconds, what is the distance between the epicentre and the seismograph location?

Examine the seismograms. Seismographs measured the time between the arrival of P-waves and S-waves.

1. Identify and label the arrival of the P and S waves on the seismograms.

2. Calculate the distance to the epicentre from each station.

Locate the Earthquake 2

3. Triangulate the epicentre on the map. Inscribe a circle with a compass, such that the point of the compass is on the location of the recording station and the radius of the circle is equal to the calculated distance to the epicentre. Repeat for the other stations. The epicentre of the earthquake is located near the point at which the circles approximately intersect. Mark and label the epicentre on the map.

Locate the Earthquake 3

Compare the location on your map with an Atlas or Google Map.

Where is the epicentre of this earthquake? Near the town of:

What is the minimum number of stations that are necessary to find an epicentre?

Locate the Earthquake 4

Locate the Earthquake 5

Locate the Earthquake 6

Locate the Earthquake 3

Answer Key

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Extracting DNA from Fruit!

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

By: Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal, PhD, NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering (Atlantic Region)

Timing: 60 minutes

Learning Objectives

  • Use proper laboratory equipment and safety rules
  • Understand the importance of DNA and why scientists would want to extract it from plants and animals.


Every cell in a plant or animal contains DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid. DNA is essential to all life on earth, it carries the instructions to create new life and sustain existing life. Scientists study DNA for several reasons including; to understand how its instructions help our bodies function normally, to modify existing DNA in plants or animals to create medicine or disease resistant crops, and studying DNA can also help solve crimes! In this lab you will extract, isolate and observe DNA from fruit using common household materials!


  • Piece of soft fruit such as strawberry or banana
  • 1 zipper-lock bag
  • Two 50 ml tubes or jars (with lid)
  • 5 ml (1tsp) of clear dish soap
  • ¼ teaspoon of table salt
  • 80 ml of distilled or bottled water
  • Coffee filter
  • Elastic band
  • 250 ml beaker or jar
  • Chilled rubbing alcohol (about 30 ml)
  • Plastic Pipette (optional)


  1. Place your rubbing alcohol in the freezer to chill.
  2. Making your fruit mash:
    1. Break fruit into chunks and place into the zipper-lock bag.
    2. Add 60 ml of distilled water into the bag.
    3. Seal the bag very tight and use your hands to mash the fruit with the water.
  3. Making a buffer:
    1. Place ¼ tsp of salt into a 50 ml tube or equivalent jar with lid.
    2. Add 1 tsp of dish soap.
    3. Add 4 tsp of distilled water.
    4. Add 2 tsp of fruit mash.
    5. Seal the tube or jar and invert about 20 times. *do not shake as this causes too many bubbles to form!
    6. Place tube or jar in warm water for about 5 minutes.
  4. Filtering:
    1. a.Place a coffee filter over the top of a 250 ml beaker or jar and secure with a rubber band as pictured below.
    2. b.Retrieve your fruit buffer mixture from the warm water and pour all contents of tub or jar into the filter slowly and wait.
  5. Precipitating:
    1. Fill your other clean 50 ml tube or jar with 30 ml (6 tsp) of the chilled rubbing alcohol from the freezer.
    2. Add 1 pipette full or 2 tsp of filtrate liquid at the bottom of the beaker or jar into the jar with the rubbing alcohol.
    3. Watch the DNA precipitate out of solution; it will look like a clear, stringy substance.

Important Concepts

  • Each component of the DNA extraction plays an important role. The soap helps to dissolve the cell membranes, the salt helps break up the protein chains that hold the DNA together, and the rubbing alcohol is used to precipitate out the DNA strands because DNA is not soluble in this substance.
  • DNA is essential because it contains the code to build living things.

Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal, PhD NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering (Atlantic Region)

A biologist and a previous NSERC University Faculty Awardee, Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal, has established a vibrant growing research group at Mount Saint Vincent University. Her research program focuses on the comparative development of the vertebrate skeleton, with particular focus on the neural crest derived craniofacial skeleton.

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